Pictured: The Montclair Art Museum's present exhibition in the Rand Gallery, "Undaunted Spirit: Native Art of North America" which traces the evolution of Native art by revealing human stories that tell of the great resiliency of Indian artists. (Courtesy photo)

Montclair, NJ – The Montclair Art Museum announced it has received a $320,000 grant from The Henry Luce Foundation to support a new project built around its collection of Native Art of North America. 

The award is the Museum’s largest ever one-time foundation grant.

The grant-funded project seeks to “indigenize the curatorial process” by collaborating with Indigenous artists, scholars and communities, according to a statement. 

The grant will fund project personnel, honoraria, and travel expenses to develop and execute an Advisory Board for Native American Art, a Project Curator of Native American Art, and two scholarly assemblies over a three-year period.

"We are so grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for making it possible to realize what has been our longtime dream and goal of collaboratively engaging Indigenous artists, scholars, and communities with innovative plans for the museum's collection and exhibitions,” Chief Curator Gail Stavitsky said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with the Advisory Board members and the future Curator of Native American Art, who will bring current thinking and new strategies to the process of creating new, more dynamic, more ethical and fully realized presentations of the Museum's collection that feature the perspectives and voices of their Native creators."  

Along with Stavitsky, the Advisory Board will begin work in June-July 2020 to assist with the development of the Curator of Native American Art job description which will be officially posted in September. The intention is to have a curator in place in January/February 2021 and phased reinstallations of Rand gallery by fall 2023. 

The members of the Advisory Board are: 

  • Heather Ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw), Senior Curator of the First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City, OK 
  • Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo), Curator of Native American Art, Portland Art Museum, Oregon
  • Joe Baker (Lenape), Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, Mashantucket, CT 
  • Sherrie Ferri-Smith (Dry Creek Pomo’Bodega Miwok), Curator of Education and Exhibits, Grace Hudson Museum & Sun House, Ukiah, California
  • Pamela Jardine, Curator Emerita of Native American Art, Montclair Art Museum
  • John Lukavic, Andrew Mellon Curator of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum
  • Kay WalkingStick (Cheokee), artist
  • Lucy Fowler-Williams, Associate Curator and Senior Keeper of American Collections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

As the only museum in New Jersey specializing in American and Native American art since its founding in 1914, the Montclair Art Museum’s collection of Native American art objects spans the period of ca.1200 C.E. to the present day, including a growing array of works by leading contemporary artists. 

The collection represents the cultural development of seven major Native American cultures throughout the United States. Additionally, Native works are regularly featured alongside artwork by non-Native American artists from the Museum’s permanent collection. 

This multi-faceted approach to American Native and non-Native art is one that distinguishes Montclair Art Museum because it allows for a broader understanding of the complexities of American history, and creates opportunities for greater access and deeper exploration.  

Over the years the Henry Luce Foundation has provided essential support to the museum's exhibitions Cezanne and American Modernism and Matisse and American Art, as well as funding for a multi-year cataloguing project of the Museum’s Morgan Russell Collection. 

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Author: Native News Online Staff